Richard Probst via flickr

Bloedel Reserve

Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island is 150 acres of gardens within gardens: a Japanese garden; the color-laden glen; an ethereal soft moss garden carpeted with more than 40 species of moss; a bird marsh filled with dragonflies and nesting birds; and a woodland of native Pacific Northwest huckleberries, hemlocks, and cedars. The 2.5 miles of trails give you a chance to see it all. The creators, Prentiss and Virginia Bloedel, shared a love of nature and the Pacific Northwest. The French Chateau where they lived for 35 years is open for tours and has a spectacular view of Puget Sound. A resident artist house on the property is where authors, musicians, and poets can stay for several weeks and have the gardens all to themselves for inspiration and solitude. Bloedel is for slow, relaxing strolls. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy it.


Heronswood is in Kingston on the Kitsap Peninsula and is the former home and garden of world-renowned plant hunter and horticulturist Dan Hinkley. Now owned and maintained by the Port Gamble S’Klallam tribe, 15-acre Heronswood is a botanical garden with collections from around the world, many from the Hinkley plant-hunting trips in Asia, South America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Bellevue Botanical Garden

The Bellevue Botanical Garden is 53 acres of just about everything that grows well in the Pacific Northwest. It is laid out in a walkable and beautifully designed group of gardens featuring a perennial border, rock garden, fern collection, and dahlia display. BBG is a garden of ideas to admire and re-create with an emphasis on community and horticultural education.


Powellswood is a sweet, tidy, and lush 3-acre garden tucked away in a 40-acre forest in Federal Way. It has a magnificent Leyland Cypress hedge that serves as backdrop to well-designed perennial beds filled with uncommon treasures. The upper part of the three-leveled garden leads you through a wide arch into a circle garden. There is a stream and duck pond. Bring lunch, and enjoy the calm.

Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden

This is much more than a rhododendron garden, even though there are thousands. It is 22 acres of good hiking in Federal Way through Victorian stumpery, an alpine garden, Meconopsis meadow, and a glass house conservatory complete with waterfall and blooming Vireya rhododendron. Also check out The Pacific Rim Bonsai exhibit at the end. The nonprofit garden has sent its director Steve Hootman on plant-hunting exhibitions from the Appalachians to India and China. They even have plants for sale.

University of Washington Botanical Gardens

The University of Washington Botanical Gardens is the combination of the Washington Park Arboretum and the Center for Urban Horticulture. The Arboretum is 230 acres of world-class plant collections of conifers, oaks, Japanese maples, birches, poplars, and larches. The newest addition is the Pacific Connection, which features plants from Cascadia, Australia, China, Chile, and New Zealand.

Point Defiance Park

Point Defiance Park in Tacoma maintains a Japanese Garden complete with pagoda, separated gardens of roses, dahlias, herbs, Northwest natives, rhododendrons, and irises. In addition to its gardens, Point Defiance is a full family experience with picnic areas, a zoo, trails for hiking and biking, and a beach.